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Over the weekend, I helped a fellow PR professional, Mary*, put together her portfolio. We selected the best writing samples, placements to use, and possible interview questions that she may be asked. For most of her campaigns, she worked in teams. In addition to heading certain components of the campaign, Mary wrote all press materials. Yes, the team collaborated to create the key message points, but press kits, pitches, press releases, fact sheets, suggested questions and media letters were all created and fine-tuned by Mary. I gave Mary a mock interview and most of her answers included “we” and sometimes “I” and that’s when I started to wonder; if she wrote all the press materials, can she mention placements other people secured? Ever notice, that in PR we highlight the benefits of teamwork, but when it comes down to it, we have an “it’s mine” mentality?
We love to claim hits/placements as our own. Why shouldn’t we? After all it was our blood, sweat and sometimes tears that landed them. However at the end of the day, when we’re writing up an update for the client, we present placements in a cohesive manner. An update isn’t broken down by associates. It doesn’t read: Mary secured x, y, and z. John secured a, b, and c. An update presents what the campaign team was able to produce. But, just to play devil’s advocate, one might say updates are broken down by the campaign summary (i.e national media, regional media, internet campaign etc) so the client may very well know which associate is securing certain placements. But that means that the client needs to remember who’s working on which component and sometimes that’s difficult.
Now let’s bring this back to Mary. Say she’s working with John on a big campaign and they’ve finalized all key messages, but again Mary is in charge of writing all final press materials. Both John and Mary are using these materials when pitching and providing media with information. My question to you is if John secured a placement should Mary get any credit? Can she claim, “its mine too?” Was it her writing that caught the eye of the media professional or John’s relationship with them that made them take a second look at the information provided? When it comes down to it, why as PR professionals, do we have this “it’s mine” mentality?
*Mary’s name has been changed to protect identity.